The three-dimensional structure of a Plasmodium falciparum cyclophilin in complex with the potent anti-malarial cyclosporin A

Mark R. Peterson, David R. Hall, Matthew Berriman, Jonathan A. Nunes, Gordon A. Leonard, Alan H. Fairlamb, William N. Hunter (Lead / Corresponding author)

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    37 Citations (Scopus)


    Cyclosporin A (CsA) is a potent anti-malarial compound in vitro and in vivo in mice though better known for its immunosuppressive properties in humans. Crystal structures of wild-type and a double mutant Plasmodium falciparum cyclophilin (PfCyP19 and mPfCyP19) complexed with CsA have been determined using diffraction terms to a resolution of 2.1 Å (1 Å = 0.1 nm). The wild-type has a single PfCyP19/CsA complex per asymmetric unit in space group P1 and refined to an R-work of 0.15 and R-free of 0.19. An altered cyclophilin, with two accidental mutations, Phe120 to Leu in the CsA binding pocket and Leu171 to Trp at the C terminus, presents two complexes per asymmetric unit in the orthorhombic space group P21212. This refined to an R-work of 0.18 and R-free 0.21. The mutations were identified from the crystallographic analysis and the C-terminal alteration helps to explain the different crystal forms obtained. PfCyP19 shares approximately 61% sequence identity with human cyclophilin A (hCyPA) and the structures are similar, consisting of an eight-stranded antiparallel β-barrel core capped by two α-helices. The fold creates a hydrophobic active-site, the floor of which is formed by side-chains of residues from four antiparallel β-strands and the walls from loops and turns. We identified C - H · · · O hydrogen bonds between the drug and protein that may be an important feature of cyclophilins and suggest a general mode of interaction between hydrophobic molecules. Comparisons with cyclophilin-dipeptide complexes suggests that a specific C - H · · · O hydrogen bonding interaction may contribute to ligand binding. Residues Ser106, His99 and Asp130, located close to the active site and conserved in most cyclophilins, are arranged in a manner reminiscent of a serine protease catalytic triad. A Ser106Ala mutant was engineered to test the hypothesis that this triad contributes to CyP function. Mutant and wild-type enzymes were found to have similar catalytic properties. (C) 2000 Academic Press.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)123-133
    Number of pages11
    JournalJournal of Molecular Biology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2000


    • C - H · · · O hydrogen bonding
    • Cyclophilin A
    • Cyclosporin A
    • Plasmodium falciparum

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Structural Biology
    • Molecular Biology


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